Work that was done as early as the 1990s has found new reinforcement with a new study published online in the journal Nature on August 22, 2012. In 2001, four-time NARSAD Grantee, Dolores Malaspina, M.D., M.P.H. published results of research demonstrating a link between paternal age and the risk of developing schizophrenia. Her work showed advancing paternal age to be the major source of new mutations in humans and she concluded that having an older father increased the risk of developing schizophrenia.
The article in yesterday’s New York Times reports that the new comprehensive study revealed a strong influence of paternal age with spontaneous human genetic mutations and may explain the link between paternal age and mental illnesses such as autism and schizophrenia. The study quantifies the risk of paternal age for the first time by calculating how much it accumulates each year.
The new study lends credence to those who have proposed that one of the reasons for the great increase in the number of autism cases over the years is due to the increasing average age of fathers.
Fred R. Volkmar, M.D., Director of the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine, who was not part of the study team, says in the article, “This study provides some of the first solid scientific evidence for a true increase in the condition [of autism]. It is extremely well done and the sample meticulously characterized.”
Read More from Benedict Carey's article in the New York Times